Rangers legend Brian Laudrup returned to Glasgow last week to put local youth players through their paces and kick off a new football academy.
The ex-Ibrox hero shared his skills at a training session with 22 lucky youngsters, organised by Ashfield Academy of Football.
Ashfield Football Club, based in Possilpark, was formed in 1886. Last year their ground, now known as the Peugeot Ashfield Stadium, benefited from a £1.9 million make-over, funded by main sponsors Michael and Gerry Facenna, of the locally-based Allied Vehicles Group.
The Facennas have now established a new charity, the Ashfield Development Trust, which plans a further £4 million development around the stadium to support the Ashfield Academy of Football, provide a speedway academy and create a major training and employability campus for North Glasgow.
The Danish maestro coached the lucky group of 12 to 15 year olds, selected from North Glasgow schools, clubs and Ashfield Academy development players. He also met younger players from the Academy, who were taking part in a fun fours event.
Afterwards Laudrup said: “I played a lot of football in Scotland but this is my first time running a coaching session so it’s a bit special.
“Giving kids a high quality of facility and coaching to help them develop not only their sporting skills but life skills as well is so important.
“It’s great to see a successful local business identifying that and putting things in place for the local community.
“With the enthusiasm Gerry Facenna, and everyone involved, has for the project I am sure it will be a great success and will help Ashfield FC, Scottish football and, most importantly, the young people of the local area.”
Stadium owner Gerry Facenna was the man behind bringing Laudrup to Ashfield and said: “We’re working with the local community to help enhance opportunities for people of all ages in North Glasgow.
“The Ashfield Academy of Football, with programmes for all ages and abilities, is a great example of this and one we’re delighted to support. Getting Brian involved is just the icing on the cake - an added incentive to inspire local youngsters to think that one day, they could be the next Laudrup or Larsson.”
Ashfield Academy of Football is developing an innovative coaching and development programme for children’s, youth and adult football. It aims to provide a structured pathway to nurture and develop local talent and help them move on to successful careers.
It also plans to create a football-led, multi-sports activity programme for people of all age groups in the surrounding areas of Possilpark, Keppochhill and Springburn, helping tackle social issues including inequality, poor health, unemployment and drugs and alcohol abuse.
Tom Robertson, secretary of Ashfield FC, said: “We are delighted that someone of Brian Laudrup’s status could give up his time to visit the club.
“It’s been an absolute privilege for these kids to be coached by him and a great way to raise the profile of the new academy.
“The whole aim is to benefit local kids, along with the wider community and this has been a fantastic way to kick it off.
“We also can’t praise Gerry and Michael Facenna enough for what they’ve done to turn the club’s fortunes around. If they hadn’t come on board, there would no longer be an Ashfield Football Club.”